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I'm more thankful to cover sports

February 21, 2002

I'm more thankful to cover sports



By DAN KAUFFMAN


Before January, Miguel Forero and I had never spoken to one another. I knew who he was - an up-and-coming sprinter at Smithsburg - but he had always been overshadowed by others, such as Boonsboro's Troy Webb and North Hagerstown's Chris Campbell.

Then Forero won both the Monocacy Valley Athletic League indoor 55-meter dash and the 300 convincingly, and everything changed.

Needless to say, I talked to Forero at MVALs. I talked to him after the Washington County meet, when he pulled off the double again. I talked to him after the 1A/2A West Region meet after he did it one more time, setting himself up for Monday's state championships. Forero saw more of yours truly than my co-workers do.

Every interview with Forero was roughly the same: What happened during the race? Are you getting used to being the favorite? What's next?

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Forero always said he was beatable, and that his success was still surprising to him. He admitted his goals and expectations were rising with his success. Then, after every interview, the handshake afterwards ended with a firm "Thank you, sir."

Those interviews happened after Forero succeeded. The one on Monday was decidedly different.

Forero knew he was outclassed in the 300 even before he got to states. But he wanted to finish in the top five in the 55. If he had advanced out of his semifinal heat by finishing in the top three, he would be guaranteed no worse than sixth.

But Forero made a mistake out of the blocks, and in an extremely difficult semi, one mistake was one too many. Forero finished fourth. The disappointment in his body language was obvious.

As a reporter, there are times when all of us know we'll have to interview someone when the last person that someone wants to see is a reporter. It can bring out the worst in people.

But Forero knew what he had to do. He answered every question. He admitted he made a mistake at the start, he talked about how difficult the competition was and how bittersweet it had all turned out.

Then we shook hands and, without fail, he said in his firm voice, "Thank you, sir."

No, Miguel. Thank you.




Forero is a great example of an athlete who walks into states where a certain finish - perhaps victory, perhaps top-three or top-five - is the goal.

Then there are kids like Clear Spring freshman Ashley Lockard.

All you need to know about Lockard is that when she finished fourth in 1A/2A West in the 1,600, earning her ticket to states, coach Terry Baker literally sprinted across the Hagerstown Community College athletic center floor to congratulate her.

Getting to states made Lockard's season. Competing at states (and finishing fifth, to boot) was just icing. My interview with Lockard was different in emotion from the one with Forero.

Please turn to KAUFFMAN, C3

Lockard turned around, camcorder firmly in her right hand and a big, colored-braces, I-can't-believe-I'm-here smile etched on her face.

Lockard didn't say much, and most of what she said centered around "having fun." She's an expert on the subject.

Trust me, nobody at states had more fun than she did. Stories like Lockard don't make print very often. The winners are the winners, and there's only so much space to tell a story. But stories like Lockard's make track and field fun for coaches such as Baker. Every team has a story like Ashley Lockard's, a story of some kid coming out of obscurity to do something no one thought possible.

Stories like Lockard's also keep me on my toes, because I never quite know what will happen at any given meet. That is why I love covering track, and that is why I can't wait for the outdoor season.




I'm losing faith in technology.

It's 2002. We've got cell phones, satellite radio, digital everything ... and this e-mail thing, that's pretty cool, huh?

One catch. For e-mail to be cool, people have to write to you! I've got this new Herald-Mail e-mail address, and my in-box is depressingly empty.

You have no idea the trouble I went through to get e-mail at the office, and you don't want to know. I doubt you could handle the truth, anyway ... so make the trouble worth my while, huh?

Give me your opinions. Ask me for mine. If you ask, I'll tell you what I think of Mark Keller's musical tastes, Al Ditzel's 24-hour rule (A hint ... he didn't make the rule, he made it neccesary) or almost anything else you're curious about.

If that doesn't get you to write, nothing will.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2332 or kauffman@herald-mail.com.

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